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U.K. Explorer Suspends Shale Gas Drilling After Earthquake

Cuadrilla Resources Ltd., a U.K.- based shale explorer, suspended hydraulic fracturing near Blackpool in northern England on concern it may have triggered an earthquake in the region.

The company halted operations at its Weeton site that use the technique known as fracking, which shoots high-pressure jets of water, sand and chemicals underground to crack open formations of hydrocarbons. The company will evaluate data on the “small seismic event” on May 27 from the British Geological Survey and the Department of Energy and Climate change before restarting the project, it said yesterday in a statement.

Concerns about earthquakes may add to environmental opposition to fracking after the state of New York banned shale exploration on the risk of contaminating water supplies. The U.K. Parliament’s Energy and Climate Change Committee said May 24 said there’s no need to curb shale gas activities in Britain, where they could provide the equivalent of 1.5 years of the country’s gas consumption.

“We take our responsibilities very seriously,” said Mark Miller, chief executive officer of Cuadrilla. “We expect that this analysis and subsequent consultation will take a number of weeks to conclude and we will decide on appropriate actions after that.”

The BGS said it recorded a 1.5 magnitude earthquake near Blackpool on May 27 that was felt by at least one person. A magnitude 2.3 seismic event was recorded in the same area and similar depth in April, suggesting that “the two events share a similar location and mechanism,” it said in an e-mail.

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